Gaming/Photoshop PC build request. ~$1500 budget.

Hi everyone!
I'm looking to build a new desktop, upgrading from my 4-year-old Dell Inspiron 6400 laptop. I plan to do a decent chunk of gaming. I also plan to use the machine for photoshop, photo editing, batch RAW editing and conversion, and programming (entering a Comp. Sci. program this year).
My budget is around $1500 all inclusive, after rebates, though it's flexible. No OS is necessary, nor are speakers.
I'd like something that will last for a while, something "future-proof", as they say.
Large storage would be nice, though I can always toss in another HDD when needed.
Overclocking as an option would be nice, though I don't plan to OC this system all that much. Just enough to give it a boost if needed.

If you magicians here can help put together the best system for the money, I would be very grateful!


BUDGET RANGE: $1500ish after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Photoshop, programming, HD movies, daily usage.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS is not needed. I have 5.1 speakers. Need everything else, including a pretty good gaming mouse and keyboard.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Nothing specific, though if I can reduce shipping costs, that would help.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel i7 would be nice, but not mandatory.

OVERCLOCKING: Eventually, yes.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: If it's a benefit.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Widescreen, 1920x1280 at least.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Quiet would be nice, as would lower power consumption. Not critical, however.
I would like something that will last a long time.
Numerous USB ports would be nice. (Is USB 3 all that useful yet?)
High HDD capacity would be a plus.

Thank you greatly!
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  1. Best answer
    CPU/RAM: i7-930 and G.Skill Pi 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $465
    Mobo: ASRock X58 Extreme $170
    GPU: HD 5870 $410
    HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
    PSU: Antec Earthwatts 750W $85 after rebate
    Case: HAF 922 $80 after rebate
    Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $22
    Monitor: Asus 23" 1080p $180 after rebate

    Total: $1,467.

    I don't buy into the fancy mice/keyboards idea. If you suck at gaming, a $50-100 mouse isn't going to make you good. Grab any set that's under $50. Or sacrifice actual performance for it.

    USB 3 isn't that useful right now. However, I consider it an essential to future proofing. That said, you can add a card that allows it later, so I would take the i7-930 over USB 3/SATA III any day.
  2. as usual, madadmiral's build is excellent.

    just a few things i'd like to add:

    you mention that you don't need an OS, hopefully you've already purchased a 64bit platform. if you haven't, a lot of your RAM is going to go to waste. i assume you're probably (hopefully) going to run windows 7...

    if you end up having any money left over, don't drop it into super expensive mice/keyboards (as madadmiral says), and instead spend that money on a bigger monitor or maybe a speaker/headphone upgrade. i've tried almost every mouse and keyboard out there, and after all my testing i'm back with my logitech G5 and a $9 microsoft keyboard from newegg.

    good luck with your build :)
  3. MadAdmiral, you are amazing. That's an excellent looking build. Very fast response too!
    Great advice for USB III. It's nice to know that a card can just be added to give the functionality. I really missed that upgradability that I lost after moving to a laptop.

    Good advice on both of you regarding mice and keyboards, too, to both of you guys. I wasn't planning on going all-out on them, but it's nice to know that they aren't really critical pieces of equipment.

    As for the OS, I do indeed already have a 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, so no problems there. Thanks for the warning, though, whatelsematters.

    I'll leave this open for a bit longer, to see if anyone else wants to toss in their $.02, but I think it's looking pretty good so far.


    edit: I was also wondering if you had any recommendations for a higher-capacity HDD. Maybe something around 1TB+, if there are any good drives/deals floating around. As I am dealing with a lot of space-consuming photos, having the extra storage may be rather useful.

  4. Seagate 7200.12 1 TB for $90 or the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB for the same price (shipping usually isn't free on it though). If you need more than that, I would just buy multiples of those drives. The 2 TB drives are just crazy expensive and the 1.5 TB drives are a lot slower.
  5. If you act quick those Seagate drives MadAdmiral is suggesting are $85 at right now...and that's also FREE shipping :wahoo:

    I just picked up 3 for a HTPC

    These are also the same drives that are fairly highly rated at Tom's...look up the HDD charts at the top of the page
  6. Guess I should actually check the price on those instead of assuming it hasn't changed...
  7. MadAdmiral said:
    Guess I should actually check the price on those instead of assuming it hasn't changed...

    That actually just changed between 12 p.m. central and 3 p.m. central today...

    I checked the Newegg price before trucking off to Microcenter...and it was $89.99

    I got back to place the order at Newegg and I couldn't understand why the price of my build was cheaper...
  8. All right, looks like I'm going with this build, though subbing in the Samsung 1TB drive. I like the excellent reviews on the Samsung, so it's worth the $5 premium.

    I had another question, though. Do I want any sort of CPU fan, or anything like that? Is it included? (Sorry, just saw that heatsink and fan are included.) Also, do I need any sort of thermal compound?
    Any recommendations from newegg for a good surge protector?
    Edit: Also, any media-card reader recommendations?
    Finally, do I need any other components? HDMI cables, nuclear reactors, etc?

    Thank you again!
  9. You don't need extra thermal compound. The stock cooler comes with it. Even if you buy an aftermarket cooler for overclocking, you still don't need special compound.

    I usually just use a cheap surge protector. Don't know if that's good or bad...

    You may need an HDMI cable. I would take a look at all the components and see exactly what they come with. The motherboard will usually come with a few SATA cables, while anything that says "OEM" comes with nothing but the component. What comes with the GPU varies from brand to brand and model to model.
  10. Mr. MadAdmiral, one again you are amazing.
    Should get the order through tomorrow. Thank you greatly for your help!
  11. Best answer selected by Alundar.
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